Ballot retrieval begins in Negros Oriental for VP protest

MANILA, Philippines – The retrieval of ballot boxes began in Negros Oriental on Monday, September 17, for the electoral protest filed by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr against Vice President Leni Robredo.

In a statement on Monday, the Robredo camp said the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), set the retrieval of ballot boxes in Negros Oriental from Monday to Wednesday, September 19.

Below is the schedule per area.

But Robredo's lead counsel Romulo Macalintal filed a manifestation before the PET on Monday, saying that the tribunal "failed to properly prepare for the schedule of collection and retrieval of ballot boxes from Negros Oriental."

Macalintal said that while they do not oppose the retrieval, they were not given enough time to prepare for it.

According to him, a September 13 meeting called by the PET with the Robredo and Marcos camps was canceled, and the two parties were only told about the schedule through email.

"Sadly, the short notice, compounded by the incoming typhoon, has rendered preparations for the scheduled retrieval doubly difficult," Macalintal said in the manifestation.

"While protestee Robredo understands the constraints faced by the retrieval team, due consideration should also have been given to the parties," he added.

Damaged ballot boxes

Negros Oriental has 1,284 clustered precincts. Robredo got 255,598 votes in the province in the 2016 vice presidential election, while Marcos got 66,506 votes.

According to the Robredo camp, the municipality of Manjuyod has both totally damaged and partially damaged ballot boxes.

"In Ayungon, minutes of voting (MOVs) in Amdus and Maaslum were placed in one envelope. These MOVs should be inside the ballot boxes," the Robredo camp also said.

Negros Oriental is the third pilot province chosen by Marcos where the initial ballot recount will be held, the other two being Camarines Sur and Iloilo.

The Robredo camp said the Negros Oriental ballot retrieval would cost an estimated P8.64 million, to be deducted from Marcos' cash deposit. – Rappler.com